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Nov. 12, 2023 |  By: Deborah Van Fleet - Public News Service

Advocates hope voters make Nebraska 48th state to approve medical cannabis


By Deborah Van Fleet - Public News Service

When it comes to getting the legalization of medical cannabis in front of Nebraska voters, supporters hope the third time's the charm.

Nebraska, Idaho and Kansas are the only remaining states with no provisions for medicinal use of cannabis. People report medical cannabis helps with a number of conditions including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and side effects of cancer treatment.

Crista Eggers, campaign manager for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, said her son's epileptic seizures are only partially controlled with medications, which can cause significant side effects. While acknowledging medical cannabis is not a cure-all, Eggers pointed out every day she talks with people it helps.

"Are there situations in which it is truly nothing short of a miracle? Absolutely," Eggers contended. "It is bringing relief to children like my son all over the United States, all over the world, and other countries where this has been used and accepted for so long."

One research study of more than 3,000 patients concluded "medical cannabis treatment may be associated with improvements in health-related quality of life among patients with a range of health conditions." Opponents tend to perceive marijuana in any form as a dangerous drug for both individuals and society.

Eggers noted they fully expect some well-funded opposition similar to what the prior ballot campaigns faced. For example, she pointed to the opposition of former Nebraska head football coach Tom Osborne, who claimed recreational marijuana caused some of his players to become less motivated.

"To compare giving my child an oil under his tongue to stop him from seizing and what that would mean in his life, to a college-age student who is playing football on a scholarship and decided to use marijuana recreationally, those are very, very different situations," Eggers argued.

Marcie Reed, a member of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, said her son's epileptic seizures are fairly well controlled right now, but she worries about what will happen as he reaches puberty. She explained some people seem uninformed about medical cannabis, leading to questions such as whether she would allow her 10-year-old son to smoke it.

"They had no idea that it came in oils and lotions and gummies," Reed said. "I also have told somebody, 'Google Vimpat and the side effects and read up on medical cannabis, and you tell me what which one you would give your child.'"

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has until July 3 to complete its signature-gathering campaign. They encouraged people who support the cause to consider collecting petition signatures from family and friends over the holidays.